When it comes to dial design and finishing, few brands can currently match Grand Seiko. The Japanese marque’s wide array of nature inspired textures from freshly driven snow to cherry blossoms and lion manes have garnered fans the world over, and its latest release offers a serene new concept in the series. Beyond an intricate new dial texture and a subtly cool colorway, the new Grand Seiko SLGH005 introduces a new case and dial design standard for the brand that remains true to its heritage while refreshing the look for the future.

The 40mm stainless steel case of the Grand Seiko SLGH005 certainly looks like a Grand Seiko design, with razor sharp faceting across the lugs, mid case and bezel punctuated by fine vertical brushing and the brand’s signature Zaratsu polishing. Knows by the brand as the Series 9 design, the lines of the case are shared with 2020’s limited edition SLGH002, but the SLGH005 presents the case concept for the first time in a regular production stainless steel guise. Like its limited edition gold stablemate, the SLGH005 sports a sapphire display caseback and a solid 100 meters of water resistance.

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Like many modern Grand Seiko designs, the dial of the Grand Seiko SLGH005 takes its inspiration from the landscape just outside the brand’s studio in Shizukuishi, Japan. In this case, the stand of white birch trees that flank the design studio are echoed in the delicate white dial surface. The wavy, striated texture of birch bark is translated to a complex interplay of deeper, gouging waves and troughs, complemented by a smaller grainy texture throughout. The blue central seconds hand emphasizes the cooler hues in this white finish, while calling to mind the fan favorite Grand Seiko “Snowflake” dial and its color scheme. Like the case, the handset and indices of the SLGH005 take their Series 9 design cues from the SLGH002. The broader, blunter, and heavily lined approach to the classic Grand Seiko mix of dauphine hands and wedge indices gives a more aggressive futuristic feel to the dial in initial images, while remaining instantly recognizable as Grand Seiko. The 3 o’clock date window does disrupt the dial surface, however, and a no-date option would likely be an enthusiast favorite.

The Grand Seiko SLGH005 is powered by the in-house 9SA5 automatic movement. First debuted in 2020, the 9SA5 features a number of proprietary innovations including the brand’s unique dual impulse escapement and free sprung balance systems. Performance is robust, with an accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day along with a hefty 80 hour power reserve at a smooth 36,000 bph beat rate. The finishing is ornate for Grand Seiko, with polished chamfers and stripes along the bridges contrasted with baseplate perlage and a heavily brushed skeleton rotor. The organic shapes of the bridges are also nods to Grand Seiko’s natural environment, echoing the silhouette of Mt. Iwate and the contour of the Shizukuishi River as it passes the brand’s studio.

Grand Seiko pairs the SLGH005 with its three link bracelet in brushed stainless steel. With the distinctive Seiko character lines flanking the center links, this bracelet design is a familiar pairing for fans of the brand and features a two button butterfly clasp.

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By bringing a new design language to the brand’s regular production models and introducing an intricate new dial concept, the Grand Seiko SLGH005 offers a strong opening salvo in the marque’s 2021 release schedule. The Grand Seiko SLGH005 will be available through Grand Seiko boutiques and selected authorized dealers starting in March 2021. MSRP for the Grand Seiko SLGH005 stands at $9,100. For more details, visit the brand’s website.

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